“Day-to-Day Life in a Small African Village” by Emily Frazier

1 Dec

“They have done impossible things in impossible places. I think it’s a great use of that altruism that is built into the Peace Corps. These are people who want to give of themselves.”  To those who want to dedicate their time and resources to the welfare of others, the words of James Walsh ring true: the Peace Corps includes people who hold unselfish devotion to helping the lives of those in need. These numbers include that of Richard Lupinsky, a biology teacher and Peace Corps member who resides in a small village in Tanzania.  His article, “Day-to-Day Life in a Small African Village”, focuses on the events of one day in his life living and teaching at a Tanzanian secondary school.  The comparison of their simple school to the rich and complex establishment known as Foothill High School is utterly astonishing, as opposite as night and day.  He writes of the progression of his day in a journal that he keeps for memory.

The day starts with an early awakening by a student banging metal as an alarm. Richard lives on campus, in a sleeping bag covered by a mesh tarp to keep out the bugs. He then feeds the three chickens that he owns in a small coup outside his room, and proceeds to an assembly required for students and teachers alike, where they sing the national anthem and receive the daily announcements. Classes follow, and the setup differs tremendously from that in America: students stay in one room, with class sizes ranging from twenty to fifty students, while teachers shuffle from room to room. Lupinsky teaches two classes, one of basic math and science, and another of business. He teaches in English and the native language of Kiswahili, learning the native language as the students learn English. After school he volunteers in a health club, teaching kids how to lead healthy lives and nutritious diets. HIV/AIDS is a major epidemic in Tanzania, and because of their lack of medical technology and knowledge of the disease, many suffer from it. That is why Richard tries his best to inform and help, both at the school and at the local dispensary. With the day ending, Lupinsky eats a simple meal of rice and vegetables, bathes himself with a bucket of water which he heats manually with a stove, and lounges outside to watch the stars that light up the sky. A modest day to most, but a day that contributes to the life changing works of one man in the Peace Corps.

To me, an upper middle class citizen of America and student of the large and modernizing Foothill High School, this article inspires me.  Something about the selflessness and integrity of one man giving his life to live in a town so behind in modern day technology and the luxuries of American society, to help give information to kids my age in a small Tanzanian village, is moving. For the past couple years the work of the Peace Corps interested me, and I also considered joining one day. In reality, I second guess myself, and reading this article strikes me with questions such as, could I give up the daily luxuries that I have grown accustomed to? Could I give up air conditioning, my IPhone, and running water? Could I live a life of the complete basics? Richard Lupinsky gave up his comfortable life as a teacher to live in what seems like a parallel universe. To me it is moving, stirring, affecting.

“Day-to-Day Life in a Small African Village” is the account of one man’s day teaching in a Tanzanian village. It is a simple article written by a modest man, but the affects go deeper. It is an example of someone making a difference in the Peace Corps and an incredible comparison between the spoiled American society and the unpretentious lives of Tanzanian teenagers. It is a story of integrity, hope and self-sacrifice. Richard Lupinsky is altogether inspirational, and should be widely appreciated by those of us living in this self-serving culture.

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